New York State Funeral Directors Association

Ancient Egyptians were serious about their philosophy about mortality and what happens after death.

They spent countless hours conducting solemn rituals they believed would help their beloved find their way after they died.

And, at least for a few thousand years, some of the more-prominent Egyptians were able to lay peacefully at rest.

Then they got dug up and put on display – like the poor guy dragged out of his tomb in Egypt and moved thousands of miles from his birthplace – to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I’m not alone in thinking there’s something wrong about taking the dead out of their graves and putting them up for viewing.

Floyd Sklaver’s article that ran on the website “” was heartening to me because it’s coming from somebody who works in a museum.

He doesn’t come right out and condemn the practice, but his article, sparked by this museum’s exhibit featuring a “mummy,” delves into details that suggest the ancient Egyptians really did care about their dead.

They spent more than two months preparing the deceased for the tomb. They were buried on their left sides facing east towards the rising sun – a symbol of resurrection, Sklaver says.

They made a mask with the likeness of the deceased because they believed their souls would leave during the day – and they needed to return to the right place each night.

They painted eyes on their coffins so they could see the gifts the living were supposed to bring to honor their beloved who died.

These steps tell me these people would be greatly opposed to their dead being pulled out of their final resting places just so people could point their fingers, rub their chins and say `wow, look, that’s a mummy.’

The comments below this article say a lot about the different attitudes people have about this topic.

Some people – albeit a few – say things like there’s “serious ethical concerns” about displaying human remains when the cultures did not expect their deceased to be displayed.

Others seem to get real testy over the topic and argue about how the dead don’t care – they’re dead.

One commenter apparently believes the Egyptian rituals mean having their dead remembered and visited is “exactly what they wanted.”

I wonder if they’d really want to be shipped to another continent to be viewed by people of another culture.

And as one commenter says – they were buried in sealed tombs. Wasn’t it King Tut’s tomb that had a curse scribed on the outside saying “stay out?”

There’s the “educational” types who argue it’s all about learning – like learning about how an ancient people took care of those who’d passed away before them.

I have to question whether it’s really necessary to un-do all the hard work these people went through burying their kin just to recognize another culture’s care for their dead.

It’s interesting how it seems people care more about the long-gone culture of ancient Egypt than the modern-day struggles of the people in this war-torn nation in northern Africa.

People don’t look at mummies as other people, they look at them as objects. Some believe the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit pays homage to this ancient artwork. Even if that’s true, I say this institution is doing a great disservice to the respect of human life.

That became pretty clear to me when I searched the exhibit website’s list of “objects.”

Yes, one of these objects stored for viewing and – included on the 10th page of the website list – is the coffin and human remains of another human being torn out of his grave and sent thousands of miles from his home.

I wonder what it is we learn from this.

Hey for what it’s worth Mr. Khnumhotep the Mummy, may you rest in peace.

EdsPhotoEd Munger
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association